The Bay Area Reporter has written a very moving story on the backlash concerning the new HRC headquarters in the Castro District where gay rights activist Harvey Milk once called home.
Dan Nicoletta, a photographer who befriended Milk, said he feels HRC’s being in the historic retail location is “an awkward fit,” he does not see a need to “police” who control’s Milk’s legacy.
“Even though lots of people who were/are the antithesis of what Milk stood for continue to brazenly co-opt his name on a regular basis, the 2010 truth of the matter is that Harvey’s legacy is everybody’s now,” wrote Nicoletta in an e-mailed response to the newspaper. “I hope that this new HRC location will truly be an action center as the press release states and not simply a cottage industry. The countless visitors to San Francisco’s LGBT mecca need something more than a T-shirt or a coffee mug to take home to their respective struggles, hopefully HRC will do its part to honor the legacy which it seeks to represent in this instance and provide that.”
Milk confidante Cleve Jones lambasted HRC for using Milk’s legacy for its own financial gain.
“To start selling Harvey Milk coffee mugs, Milk condoms, whatever merchandise … for God’s sake no. It is a cheapening of Harvey’s image,” said Robinson, who lives nearby the store. “Harvey essentially gave his life for the gay community and for anybody to go in there and make money off of his image by selling cheap trinkets, I am sorry that is a no-no in my opinion.”
Jones continued, “Most San Franciscans are well aware of the fact HRC represents the antitheses of Harvey’s own political philosophies and his strategies for organizing,” said Jones, who recently moved back to the Castro. “What it comes down to really is foot traffic. HRC’s got their little T-shirt shop up there on 19th Street and everyday they see the pilgrims coming from all over the world to see the store where Harvey worked and they want a piece of that. I am truly sickened by this.”
He is appealing to HRC to reconsider moving into the storefront, where some of Milk’s ashes are buried in the sidewalk out front.
“That camera store, I spent so much time there in my youth. It was a place for networking and activism. It was a place where young people arriving in San Francisco could find welcoming smiles and practical support,” said Jones. “If they wanted to do something with that space to truly honor Harvey’s memory, I think they should collaborate with LYRIC and local service providers to do some sort of drop-in for the kids.”
Visit the Bay Area Reporter website and read the full story here.